When I wrote my post about 10 things to do in 2012 I somehow forgot to mention that the world is scheduled to end this year – on 21st December to be precise. According to proponents of this theory, the ancient Mayans predicted it all: their 23,000-year cyclical calendar ends abruptly on that date. I suppose this solves the problem of what to buy people for Christmas.
However, all is not lost for the people of Bugarach in the Corbières, who benefit from a dispensation denied to the rest of us. Seekers after a bolthole from the Apocalypse have been besieging this otherwise unexceptional place. Le pic de Bugarach, the peak that overlooks the village, conceals an extra-terrestrials’ base, which apparently guarantees its immunity from the cataclysm.
Those of us not fortunate enough to live there have been stoically continuing with our daily lives. At least 2012 is a leap year, so we get to enjoy an extra day before destiny overtakes us. The prospect of annihilation has added a certain piquancy to the “Meilleurs Voeux” that we have been wishing our neighbours for 2012 – “surtout pour la santé”. Most of them don’t seem to realise that the end is nigh; we feel it kinder not to enlighten them.
Our first stop was chez M. et Mme F. Her first words were, “Oh dear, I haven’t prepared the bottle yet.” The bottle in question contains vieille prune spirits of lethal strength. We give our neighbours the surplus plums from our trees. They then have the liquor distilled from them. Monsieur F. took us to see it being distilled a year ago, which we found fascinating.
Our first introduction to this fiery spirit came early on in our life here when we agreed to send a fax for our neighbours. That evening, Monsieur F. turned up to thank us, bearing a two-litre plastic water bottle full of vieille prune. Every year since then they have given us a bottle of it.
Since I don’t drink it at all and the SF drinks it only occasionally, we now have litres of the stuff stowed in a cupboard. We cannot turn it down without offending them. The SF refuses to get rid of it. “You don’t throw alcohol away,” he says.
Yesterday, Mme F. rootled about in the buffet for a while before emerging with a bottle which someone had plainly sampled already. However, this would have to do. She didn’t want to go into the attic – “It’s full of spiders’ webs!” I wondered how much vieille prune they store in the attic. You can imagine the explosive results in the event of a fire. We used it to flame a Christmas pudding once in the absence of brandy and had to smother the pud with a damp towel when we realised that the spirit had set it alight.
Mme F. swathed the bottle in a piece of old Christmas wrapping paper, and we laid it on the back seat of the car. Next stop for our New Year’s calls was Mme M. over the road. However, she informed us that she was in the middle of her lunch and was unable to invite us in. She would telephone us instead.
We went off to the market. A pervasive smell of alcohol emanated from the car when we opened the door on our return. Mme F. had neglected to screw the cap on the bottle properly, and it had leaked all over the back seat. Fortunately, there were no police contrôles on the way home to detect the tell-tale odour.
At least if things come to pass as predicted on 21st December, we will have plenty of vieille prune with which to drown our sorrows.
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Not again! Well I had better not buy any season tickets then.
Yes, the world does seem to end rather often. And it appears that calculations based on the Mayan calendar may be wrong: in fact, the world should probably have ended in October 2011. Make the most of it anyway – you never know, they might be right!
Nice post. I hope the world doesn’t end then because I’ve booked an exciting exhibition for 2014. Mind you the way things are going in the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.
We’re packing to leave for France tomorrow. Maybe we will meet at last, at V de R market. Hope so! Happy new year … Liz
Oh yes, I hope we can meet up this time round. You won’t like the weather at the moment, though. It’s wet and windy. At least it’s not cold. Bonne Année.
I’m optimistic that we’ll still be here on 22nd December this year, so plenty of time to drink up the eau de vie! It sounds like good stuff.
I’ll drink to that!
BONNE ANNEE to you and SF! Just as a portend, we spotted a flying saucer when out walking the other day!!! You can see the pic on my AngloInfo blog – An Extraordinary Vision at Sunset. The Bugarach business is apparently hell for the locals, how they’re managing the influx of, dare I say it, nutters, I can’t imagine. I saw a cartoon somewhere yesterday – two Mayans in a hut, one propping up a giant circular stone covered in carvings. He is saying ‘December 2012. Oh dear, I’ve run out of space!’ ‘Never mind,’ says his friend. ‘Time you had a go at something else.’
As for the eau de vie de prune, you could put it in jars with pruneaux. I’m sure you’ve tried them at some point – delish.
You mean you don’t believe in the prediction?! But your flying saucer – which I will go and look at – is surely proof of its accuracy. Seriously, though, I feel sorry for the poor people of Bugarach who must be heartily sick of the whole thing. Like the idea of the cartoon. It must have been something like that which made them stop at that date; or his friends got fed up with him and had him sacrificed instead.
I’ve had plums in eau de vie but can’t say I care for the alcohol taste. And we’ve got about 12 litres to get rid of! An idea for Christmas presents, perhaps. Oh no, I forgot, the world ends before next Christmas.